Newcastle University researchers discover how to prevent forgery

Researchers have found a way to prevent fraud Credit: Newcastle University

Scientists from Newcastle University believe they have found an inexpensive and easy way to validate the authenticity of any paper document just by taking a picture of it on a standard camera.

The university reports that designing secure documents that provide high levels of security against forgery is a long-standing problem. Even in today’s digital age, this problem remains important as paper is still the most common form of proving authenticity – such as receipts, contracts, certificates and passports.

By analysing the translucent patterns revealed when a light shines through paper, the researchers have been able to identify a unique ‘texture’ fingerprint for every single sheet of paper.

Capturing the random interweaving of the wooden particles, they show that a unique fingerprint code can be captured and verified with 100% accuracy using nothing more than an off-the-shelf camera. They further show that the finger-printing process remains highly reliable even if the paper is treated with rough handling such as crumpling, soaking, scribbling and heating.

The technique can be applied to prevent counterfeiting of any physical document that is made of paper material, for example, e-passports and bank notes.

Publishing their findings today in the academic journal ACM Transactions on Information and System Security, the team –Ehsan Toreini, Dr Feng Hao and Dr Siamak Shahandashti - say the findings offer a new way to verify physical documents and reduce the risk of forgery.

Dr Feng Hao, co-author and Reader in Security Engineering at Newcastle University, said:

“What we have shown is that every piece of paper contains unique intrinsic features just as every person has unique intrinsic biometric features.

Dr Feng Hao

Lead author Ehsan Toreini, a PhD student in Cyber Security in Newcastle University’s School of Computing Science, said:

“Typically, wooden particles are used as the base and multiple substances are used to stick these particles together.”

Ehsan Toreini